by Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In a new book, former President Lee Teng-hui blasts top politicians for claiming the Diaoyutai Islands belong to Taiwan, but his accusations provoked a swift negative reaction from the Presidential Office, reports said Tuesday.
The uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan, but both China and Taiwan claim sovereignty over them, with rich fishing grounds and potential oil or gas reserves as the prize. Lee has come under fire before for supporting Japan’s claims.
The former president, who ruled Taiwan from 1988 to 2000, will publish a Chinese-language book with a title which could be freely translated as “Yu Sheng (The Rest of My Life): My Life Journey and Taiwan’s Road to Democracy.” He was absent at the official presentation Tuesday due to ill health, reports said.
In the book, Lee reiterates his previous controversial statements about the Diaoyutai, known as Senkaku in Japanese, which have earned him sharp criticism from politicians in Taiwan.
“The Diaoyutai Archipelago does not belong to Taiwan, that is a fact which cannot be disputed,” he reportedly writes.
Lee goes further and also slams politicians from both major parties, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
After the Democratic Progressive Party came to power in 2000, Premier Yu Shyi-kun proclaimed that the Diaoyutai resorted under the town of Toucheng in Yilan County, which was one of the most stupid things to do, according to Lee as quoted by the Apple Daily. Yu is a former Yilan County magistrate.
Lee also directs his anger at leaders of the ruling Kuomintang, reportedly naming Vice President Wu Den-yih as a “cheap” and “unwise” politician for supporting Taiwan’s claim over the islands.
President Ma Ying-jeou was the first to launch the issue of Taiwanese sovereignty related to the Diaoyutai in an article published by the American media in 1972, Lee said.
In a reaction to the book, the Presidential Office said that any words denying that Taiwan held sovereignty over the islands amounted to an insult, and that neither the government nor the people would accept them.
The Diaoyutai have been listed as part of Taiwan since 1683, and history, geography and international law all provide the island’s case with a secure basis, a presidential spokesperson said.
The former president’s new book is reportedly mainly a translation of a book published in Japanese in 2014. Apart from the Diaoyutai, Lee also discusses relations between Taiwan, Japan and China in general. He reportedly describes Taiwan and Japan as a community with a common destiny, with the latter the only nation able to lead Asia.